Mwotlap language

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Mwotlap
Motlav
Pronunciation [ŋ͡mʷɔtˈlap]
Native to Vanuatu
Region Mota Lava island, Banks Islands
Native speakers
2,100 (2012) [1]
Dialects
Language codes
ISO 639-3 mlv
Glottolog motl1237
ELP Motlav

Mwotlap (pronounced [ŋ͡mʷɔtˈlap] ; formerly known as Motlav) is an Oceanic language spoken by about 2,100 people in Vanuatu. The majority of speakers are found on the island of Motalava in the Banks Islands, [2] with smaller communities in the islands of Ra (or Aya) and Vanua Lava, [3] as well as migrant groups in the two main cities of the country, Santo and Port Vila.

Contents

Mwotlap was first described in any detail in 2001, by the linguist Alexandre François.

Volow, which used to be spoken on the same island, may be considered a dialect or a separate language.

The language

Geographic distribution

A speaker of Mwotlap

Mwotlap is spoken by about 2,100 people in the Banks Islands, in the North of Vanuatu. Among them, 1,640 live on the island of Mota Lava and its neighbor island, Ra. It is also spoken by a few hundred people living elsewhere in Vanuatu:

Classification

Mwotlap belongs to the Austronesian language family, which includes more than 1,200 languages. Inside its family, Mwotlap is an Oceanic language, descending from the hypothetical common ancestor of all Oceanic languages, Proto-Oceanic. More specifically, it is a Southern Oceanic language.

History

Robert Henry Codrington, an Anglican priest who studied Melanesian societies, first described Mwotlap in 1885. While focusing mainly on Mota, Codrington dedicated twelve pages of his work The Melanesian Languages to the "motlav" language. Despite being very short, this description can be used to show several changes that occurred in Mwotlap during the 20th century. Furthermore, Codrington described Volow, a language closely related to Mwotlap (sometimes even considered a dialect of Mwotlap). Volow, almost extinct today, was spoken in the east of Mota Lava, in the area of Aplow.

Phonology

Because Mwotlap has been passed down by oral tradition, it has no official writing system. This article uses the orthography devised by linguist Alexandre François, based on the Latin alphabet. [a 1]

Mwotlap contrasts 16 consonant phonemes.

Consonants
Labiovelar Bilabial Alveolar
or Palatal
Velar Glottal
Nasal ŋ͡m ʷ m m n n ŋ
Stop Voiceless k͡p ʷ q t t k k
Prenasalized b b d d
Fricative β [lower-alpha 1] v s s ɣ g h h
Lateral l l
Approximant w w j y
  1. [p] exists as the allophone of /β/ word-finally, as in the name of the language, /ŋ͡mʷɔtlaβ/ [ŋ͡mʷɔtˈlap].

Mwotlap has 7 phonemic vowels, which are all short monophthongs, with no diphthongs being present in the language. [4]

Vowels
Front Back
Close i i u u
Near-close ɪ ē ʊ ō
Open-mid ɛ e ɔ o
Open a a

Stress always falls on the last syllable of a word.

Prosody

Mwotlap is not tonal. Stress falls on the last syllable of a word or syntagma.

Morphophonology

Syllables

Mwotlap's syllable structure is (C)V(C). This means that no more than two consonants can follow each other within a word and that no word can start or finish with more than one consonant. Recent loanwords, like skul (from English school), are exceptions to this structure.

When a root beginning with two constants forms the beginning of a word, an epenthetic vowel (the same as the next vowel) is inserted between the two consonants. [5] For example, the root tron̄ ("drunk") can form the following:

Vowel copying

Vowel copying is the tendency of certain prefixes to copy the first vowel of the following word. [5] Notable vowel copying prefixes include the article na-, the locative le-, and te-, a prefix used to form adjectives describing origin. These prefixes form nō-vōy ("volcano"), ni-hiy ("bone"), and to-M̄otlap ("from Mota Lava"), but also na-pnō ("island") and na-nye-k ("my blood"). Words stems beginning with two consonants do not permit vowel copying. Thus the stems VŌY [6] and HIY [7] allow their vowel to be copied, while the stems VNŌ [8] and DYE [9] do not.

Syntax

Mwotlap is an SVO language: the word order of a sentence is fixed and is always subject-verb-complement-adverbial.

The system of personal pronouns contrasts clusivity, and distinguishes four numbers (singular, dual, trial, plural). [10] Human nouns also have four numbers; as for non-human nouns, they do not inflect for number and are expressed as singulars. [11]

Spatial reference in Mwotlap is based on a system of geocentric (absolute) directionals, which is in part typical of Oceanic languages, and in part innovative. [12]

Related Research Articles

Labial–velar consonants are doubly articulated at the velum and the lips, such as. They are sometimes called "labiovelar consonants", a term that can also refer to labialized velars, such as the stop consonant and the approximant.

Torba Province

Torba is the northernmost province of Vanuatu. It consists of the Banks Islands and the Torres Islands.

Mota Lava

Mota Lava or Motalava is an island of the Banks group, in the north of Vanuatu. It forms a single coral system with the small island of Ra.

Alexandre François

Alexandre François is a French linguist specialising in the description and study of the indigenous languages of Melanesia. He belongs to Lattice, a research centre of the CNRS and École Normale Supérieure dedicated to linguistics.

Mota is an Oceanic language spoken by about 750 people on Mota Island, in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu.

The North Vanuatu languages form a linkage of Southern Oceanic languages spoken in northern Vanuatu.

Lakon[lakɔn] is an Oceanic language, spoken on the west coast of Gaua island in Vanuatu.

Merelava

Merelava is an island in the Banks Islands of the Torba Province of northern Vanuatu.

Lo-Toga language Austronesian language spoken in Vanuatu

Lo-Toga is an Oceanic language spoken by about 580 people on the islands of Lo and Toga, in the Torres group of northern Vanuatu. The language has sometimes been called Loh(sic) or Toga, after either of its two dialects.

Mwerlap is an Oceanic language spoken in the south of the Banks Islands in Vanuatu.

Hiw is an Oceanic language spoken by about 280 people on the island of Hiw, in the Torres Islands of Vanuatu.

Dorig(formerly called Wetamut) is an Oceanic language spoken on Gaua island in Vanuatu.

Lemerig language Austronesian language spoken in Vanuatu

Lemerig is an Oceanic language spoken on Vanua Lava, in Vanuatu.

Olrat is a moribund Oceanic language spoken on Gaua island in Vanuatu.

Mwesen(formerly known by its Mota name Mosina) is an Oceanic language spoken in the southeastern area of Vanua Lava Island, in the Banks Islands of northern Vanuatu, by about 10 speakers.

Vurës language Austronesian language spoken in Vanuatu

Vurës is an Oceanic language spoken in the southern area of Vanua Lava Island, in the Banks Islands of northern Vanuatu, by about 2000 speakers.

Löyöp is an Oceanic language spoken by about 240 people, on the east coast of Ureparapara Island in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu. It is distinct from Lehali, the language spoken on the west coast of the same island.

Volow is an Oceanic language variety which used to be spoken in the area of Aplow, in the eastern part of the island of Motalava, in Vanuatu.

Aplow, or Valuwa, is a village located on the eastern part of Motalava island, in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu. Located close to it is the island's airport, also known as Valua airport.

The Torres–Banks languages form a linkage of Southern Oceanic languages spoken in the Torres Islands and Banks Islands of northern Vanuatu.

References

  1. François (2012):88).
  2. List of Banks islands languages; map of the 17 north Vanuatu languages.
  3. François (2012):97).
  4. François (2005a): 445); François (2005b): 116).
  5. 1 2 François (2000)
  6. See entry vōy in the Online Mwotlap dictionary .
  7. See entry hiy in the Online Mwotlap dictionary .
  8. See entry v[ō] in the Online Mwotlap dictionary .
  9. See entry d[e]ye~ in the Online Mwotlap dictionary .
  10. François (2016).
  11. François (2005:) 122-125).
  12. François (2003), François (2015:) 175-176).
  1. pp. 77–78

Sources

Main references

Other references